TORONTO — The fast-casual category is continuing to steal market share, and, according to a new study from the NPD Group, consumers are now choosing between food freshness/menu variety and speedy service/value pricing when determining what type of restaurant to patronize.
“Though traditionally cheaper than sit-down restaurants, fast-casuals can demand a higher price point than their fast-food counterparts because their made-to-order quality offerings are served in an upscale atmosphere, which is often newer and promotes greater menu innovation than that of their competitors,” said Robert Carter, executive director of Foodservice at The NPD Group.
The NPD study found that convenience is the number-1 driving force among fast-casual and QSR diners, followed by general appeal. Fast-casual diners also frequent outlets due to ‘cravings’ (23 per cent) and ‘quality ingredients on menus’ (22 per cent). QSR diners list an ‘old favourite’ (28 per cent) and ‘affordable pricing’ (19 percent) as driving incentives.
The new fast-casual style of dining is not without challenges. Although it offers quality ingredients, the cost, while lower than full-service restaurants, is still relatively high for regular visits. But, Canadians can expect significant growth of fast-casual restaurants in the foodservice industry.
Overall, QSRs still dominate the fast-casual marketplace.